19 Key Restaurant Metrics Every Restaurant Must Track

19 key restaurant metrics: Gross Profit Margin · Net Profit Margin · Cost of Goods Sold · Food Cost Percentage · Cash Flow · Prime Costs and more.

Restaurant Industry
19 key restaurant metrics: Gross Profit Margin · Net Profit Margin · Cost of Goods Sold · Food Cost Percentage · Cash Flow · Prime Costs and more.
Michael Jones

In the competitive restaurant industry, where profit margins typically range between a modest 3% to 5%, understanding and utilizing key metrics is not just beneficial, but essential. While full-service restaurants often experience lower margins, fast-casual establishments may see slightly better figures. Key expenses like labor and overhead significantly impact profitability. This guide explores 19 vital restaurant metrics, shedding light on financial health, operational efficiency, and customer and employee metrics. These restaurant metrics are indispensable tools for restaurant owners and managers, enabling informed decisions and fostering business growth in a challenging market.

A beach restaurant.

Financial Health Metrics

1. Gross Profit Margin

Gross Profit Margin is a key financial metric that shows the percentage of sales revenue that exceeds the cost of goods sold (COGS). It's a measure of the efficiency of a restaurant in using its resources to produce its menu items.

  • Calculation: The Gross Profit Margin is calculated by subtracting the COGS from the total revenue and dividing the result by the total revenue, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. The formula is: (TotalRevenueCOGS)/TotalRevenue x 100.
  • Importance: This margin is crucial as it reflects the fundamental profitability of the restaurant before accounting for other expenses. A higher gross profit margin indicates a more financially efficient operation, essential for sustainability in the competitive restaurant business.

2. Net Profit Margin

Net Profit Margin measures the percentage of profit made after all expenses, including COGS, labor, rent, utilities, and other operating expenses. It's a comprehensive indicator of a restaurant's financial health.

  • Calculation: To calculate Net Profit Margin, subtract total expenses from total revenue, divide this figure by the total revenue, and multiply by 100. The formula is: (TotalRevenueTotalExpenses)/TotalRevenue x 100.
  • Importance: Net Profit Margin is vital for understanding the overall profitability of a restaurant. It considers all costs, offering a complete picture of the financial effectiveness of the business. This metric is especially important for making long-term strategic decisions.

3. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

COGS represents the direct costs attributable to the production of the dishes sold by a restaurant. This includes the cost of ingredients and any other direct costs involved in making the food and beverages.

  • Calculation: COGS is calculated by adding the beginning inventory to the purchases made during the period and then subtracting the ending inventory. The formula is: BeginningInventory+Purchases−EndingInventory.
  • Importance: Understanding COGS is crucial for restaurant management because it directly affects the restaurant's profitability. Effective control of COGS can lead to improved gross profit margins. Keeping COGS in check is essential for pricing menu items correctly and maintaining profitability.

4. Food Cost Percentage

Food Cost Percentage is a critical restaurant metric for restaurants, indicating the proportion of total sales revenue that is spent on food ingredients. It helps restaurants understand how much they are spending on ingredients relative to their sales.

  • Calculation: To calculate Food Cost Percentage, divide the cost of food by the total sales revenue and multiply by 100. The formula is: FoodCost/TotalSales x 100.
  • Importance: This metric is crucial for pricing menu items profitably and managing the overall food budget. It helps in identifying potential areas of waste or inefficiency in food usage. Restaurants typically aim for an ideal food cost percentage between 28% and 35% to maintain profitability.

5. Cash Flow

Cash Flow represents the net amount of cash being transferred into and out of a restaurant over a period. It is a key indicator of the restaurant's liquidity, showing how well the restaurant manages its cash to fund operations and growth.

  • Calculation: Cash Flow is calculated by subtracting cash outflows (expenses, purchases) from cash inflows (revenue from sales). The formula is: CashInflowsCashOutflows.
  • Importance: Maintaining positive cash flow is essential for the financial health of a restaurant. It ensures that the restaurant can meet its financial obligations, invest in growth opportunities, and buffer against future challenges. Negative cash flow can lead to financial strain and inhibit the restaurant's ability to operate effectively.

6. Prime Costs

Prime Costs in a restaurant encompass the combined costs of goods sold (COGS) and labor expenses. This metric is one of the most significant indicators of a restaurant's financial health as it combines the two largest expenses.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Prime Cost, add the total COGS to the total labor costs for a specific period. The formula is: COGS+TotalLaborCosts.
  • Importance: Understanding Prime Costs is crucial for effective budgeting and cost control in a restaurant. These costs should typically represent around 60% of total sales for a restaurant to be profitable. Managing Prime Costs effectively can lead to improved profitability and operational efficiency​.

7. Average Check Size

The Average Check Size is a metric that measures the average amount spent by a customer during a single visit to the restaurant. It reflects the spending behavior of customers and can be indicative of menu pricing, customer demographics, and the effectiveness of upselling strategies.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Average Check Size, divide the total sales revenue by the number of transactions (or bills) over a certain period. The formula is: TotalSales/NumberofTransactions.
  • Importance: This metric is important for understanding customer spending patterns and menu performance. It can help restaurant owners make informed decisions about menu pricing, menu design, and marketing strategies to increase revenue. A higher average check size can lead to greater profitability, making it a key factor in revenue management.

8. Break-Even Point

The Break-Even Point is the point at which total revenue equals total costs, meaning the restaurant is not making a profit but also not incurring a loss. It is a critical financial metric for understanding the minimum performance required to avoid losing money.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Break-Even Point, first determine total fixed costs and total variable costs per unit, then use the formula: TotalFixedCosts/(SellingPriceperUnitVariableCostperUnit).
  • Importance: Knowing the Break-Even Point is crucial for financial planning and risk assessment. It helps restaurants set sales targets and understand the impact of changes in costs or pricing. It is also useful for making investment decisions and evaluating the financial feasibility of new ventures or changes in the business model.

9. Ideal Menu Price

Ideal Menu Price is the optimal price point for each dish on a restaurant's menu, balancing profitability and customer value. It's an essential component of menu engineering, determining how much a restaurant should charge for a dish to cover its costs and achieve desired profit margins.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Ideal Menu Price, divide the Plate Cost (total cost of ingredients per dish) by the target Food Cost Percentage. The formula is: PlateCost/FoodCostPercentage.
  • Importance: Setting the Ideal Menu Price is crucial for maintaining a profitable and competitive edge. It ensures that each menu item contributes adequately to the restaurant's overall financial goals while also meeting customer expectations for value. Pricing menu items too low can erode profit margins, while pricing them too high can deter customers, making this a critical balance for restaurant success.


EBITDA is a measure of a restaurant's overall financial performance, providing insight into its operational profitability without the influence of financing and accounting decisions. It reflects the earnings from core operations before the deduction of interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

  • Calculation: To calculate EBITDA, start with the net income, then add back interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization expenses. The formula is: NetIncome+Interest+Taxes+Depreciation+Amortization.
  • Importance: EBITDA is an important metric for comparing the financial performance of different restaurants, particularly when assessing potential investments or valuing businesses. It provides a clearer view of operational profitability by removing the effects of financing and accounting decisions. This metric is especially useful for investors and managers to understand the cash-generating ability of the restaurant's core operations.

11. Revenue per Square Foot

Revenue per Square Foot is a metric that assesses the revenue generated per square foot of space in a restaurant. It's a key indicator of space efficiency and effectiveness in generating sales. This metric is particularly important for restaurants to understand how well they are utilizing their physical space in relation to the revenue being generated.

  • Calculation: To calculate Revenue per Square Foot, divide the total revenue by the total square footage of the restaurant. The formula is: TotalRevenue/TotalSquareFootage.
  • Importance: Understanding Revenue per Square Foot is crucial for making strategic decisions about restaurant layout, design, and capacity. High revenue per square foot indicates efficient use of space and can signify a successful business model. This metric is particularly useful when comparing different locations or assessing the impact of layout changes. It helps restaurant owners maximize the profitability of their available space, which is especially important in areas where rent or property costs are high.

A restaurant with good operation efficiency.

Operational Efficiency Metrics

12. Average Covers

Average Covers refer to the average number of customers served per day or per service (like breakfast, lunch, or dinner). This metric is essential in understanding the customer traffic in a restaurant and helps in gauging the popularity of different service times.

  • Calculation: To calculate Average Covers, divide the total number of customers served by the number of services or days. The formula is: TotalCustomersServed/NumberofServicesorDays.
  • Importance: Monitoring Average Covers is crucial for effective staffing and inventory management. It helps restaurants identify peak times, allowing them to optimize staffing levels and inventory to meet customer demand efficiently. Understanding this metric can also guide menu planning and promotional strategies to enhance customer traffic during slower periods.

13. Inventory Turnover Ratio

The Inventory Turnover Ratio measures how often a restaurant sells and replaces its inventory over a given period. It is a key indicator of inventory management efficiency and product demand.

  • Calculation: The restaurant's inventory turnover ratio is calculated by dividing the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) by the average inventory for a specific period. The formula is: COGS/((BeginningInventory+EndingInventory)/2).
  • Importance: A high Inventory Turnover Ratio indicates efficient inventory management and strong sales, whereas a low ratio could signal overstocking or declining sales. Effective management of this ratio helps in reducing waste, optimizing stock levels, and ensuring the freshness of ingredients. It's essential to maintain a balance between having enough inventory to meet customer demand and minimizing excess stock that can lead to increased costs and waste.

14. Table Turnover Rate

Table Turnover Rate measures the frequency at which tables are occupied and then vacated for new customers in a restaurant. This metric is key in evaluating the efficiency of the service and the restaurant's ability to accommodate a maximum number of guests within operational hours.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Table Turnover Rate, divide the total number of parties served by the number of tables available. The formula is: TotalNumberofPartiesServed/NumberofTables.
  • Importance: High Table Turnover Rates can indicate efficient service and high demand, contributing to increased revenue. Understanding this metric allows restaurants to optimize seating strategies, service speed, and reservation management. It's essential to balance quality customer service with the need to serve as many customers as possible, especially during peak hours.

15. Food Waste Percentage

Food Waste Percentage measures the amount of food waste generated relative to the total food purchased or prepared. This metric is crucial for understanding the efficiency of food usage and the impact of waste on the restaurant's costs and sustainability efforts.

  • Calculation: To calculate Food Waste Percentage, divide the total weight or cost of wasted food by the total weight or cost of food purchased or prepared, then multiply by 100. The formula is: TotalWastedFood(weightorcost)/TotalFoodPurchasedorPrepared(weightorcost) x 100.
  • Importance: Managing the Food Waste Percentage is vital for reducing food costs and improving the environmental footprint of the restaurant. Lowering this percentage can lead to significant cost savings, as it directly affects the cost of goods sold. It also reflects a restaurant's commitment to sustainability, which can be an important factor for environmentally conscious customers. Reducing food waste involves careful menu planning, inventory management, and staff training, all contributing to more efficient and responsible restaurant operations.

A happy family in a restaurant.

Customer and Employee Metrics

16. Customer Acquisition Cost

Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) refer to the total cost associated with acquiring a new customer. This includes marketing and advertising expenses, promotions, and any other costs incurred in attracting how many customers to the restaurant. Understanding CAC is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of marketing strategies and the sustainability of the business model.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Customer Acquisition Cost, divide the total marketing and advertising expenses by the number of new customers acquired over a specific period. The formula is: TotalMarketingandAdvertisingExpenses/NumberofNewCustomersAcquired.
  • Importance: Monitoring CAC is crucial for ensuring that the cost of acquiring new customers is not exceeding the revenue they generate. It helps restaurants optimize marketing spend, target the right audience, and develop more cost-effective strategies for customer acquisition. A lower CAC indicates a more efficient use of resources in attracting customers, which is vital for maintaining profitability and long-term growth.

17. Customer Retention Rate

The Customer Retention Rate measures the percentage of customers who return to the restaurant over a specific period. It's an important metric that reflects customer loyalty, satisfaction, and the effectiveness of customer service and engagement strategies.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Customer Retention Rate, subtract the number of new customers acquired during a period from the total number of customers at the end of the period. Divide this number by the total number of customers at the start of the period, and then multiply by 100. The formula is: (EndofPeriodCustomersNewCustomers)/StartofPeriodCustomers x 100.
  • Importance: A high Customer Retention Rate indicates strong customer loyalty and satisfaction, key factors for sustainable business growth. Focusing on retaining customers is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, making this metric vital for profitability. It helps in understanding the effectiveness of customer service, the appeal of the menu, and the overall dining experience. Improving customer retention can lead to increased revenue, as repeat customers often spend more and promote the restaurant through word-of-mouth.

18. Employee Turnover Rate

Employee Turnover Rate in a restaurant is a measure of how frequently staff members leave and are replaced. It's an important metric in assessing staff satisfaction, the effectiveness of hiring practices, and the overall stability of the workforce.

  • Calculation: To calculate the Employee Turnover Rate, divide the number of employees who have left by the average number of employees, and multiply by 100 to get a percentage. The formula is: (NumberofEmployeesWhoLeft/AverageNumberofEmployees)x100.
  • Importance: A high turnover rate can indicate issues with workplace culture, compensation, or working conditions, leading to increased costs in recruitment and training. Monitoring and reducing turnover rates is crucial for maintaining a skilled and experienced workforce, ensuring consistent service quality, and reducing operational disruptions.

19. Labor Cost Percentage

Labor Cost Percentage measures the proportion of total revenue that a restaurant spends on labor, including wages, salaries, and benefits. It's a key indicator of how efficiently a restaurant is utilizing its workforce in relation to its income.

  • Calculation: To calculate Labor Cost Percentage, divide total labor costs by total sales revenue, and then multiply by 100. The formula is: TotalLaborCosts/TotalSales x 100.
  • Importance: Labor Cost Percentage helps restaurant owners balance staffing needs with profitability. An optimal labor cost percentage ensures that the restaurant is staffed adequately to meet customer demand without overspending on labor. It's essential for budgeting, forecasting, and pricing strategies to maintain profitability. Keeping labor costs in check without compromising on service quality is a crucial aspect of successful restaurant management.

5-Out sales forecasting tool.


Understanding and effectively utilizing the 19 key restaurant performance metrics outlined in this guide is essential for any restaurant owner looking to thrive in a highly competitive industry. These metrics offer deep insights into various aspects of restaurant operations, from financial health and operational efficiency to customer satisfaction and employee management. By closely monitoring and analyzing these indicators, restaurant owners can make more informed decisions, leading to enhanced business performance and growth.

Additionally, for those seeking to further optimize their restaurant's performance, leveraging advanced tools like the 5-Out AI-powered sales forecasting tool can be a game-changer. Utilizing AI and ML, 5-Out provides accurate predictions of future demand, offering valuable insights for inventory purchasing and labor optimization. This forward-looking approach helps restaurant owners minimize waste and maximize profit by aligning resources with anticipated needs, ultimately steering the restaurant toward greater efficiency and profitability.

Embracing these metrics and supplementing them with cutting-edge tools like 5-Out can transform the way a restaurant operates, paving the way for sustainable success and growth in the dynamic world of food service.

Book a demo today to explore how our AI-driven tool can optimize your inventory, labor, and overall operations for maximum efficiency and profitability.

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